Volunteer Reflections from Julie

Julie joined the provincial team at the end of the summer and has been actively engaging with residents since September in the Lower Mainland.

As a gift to myself, I have always participated within my community. In the last few years – as a retired mother unencumbered by former responsibilities – I found even more time to volunteer at various care and senior facilities. Without uncertainty, contribution in service has always afforded me life purpose, continuous growth and mutual connections with others. In particular, interacting with older adults in their various, and sometimes difficult, environments has allowed me great insight and hope in my own journey to becoming a senior.

The opportunity to participate in the Residential Care Survey Project has been a satisfying experience. Among other things, I am excited that we can actually contribute to the quality of life of these invisible seniors living in care homes. By collecting data from interviews, we can identify some gaps in the social/healthcare system as it strives to meet the rising needs of a diverse population aging. The fieldwork with the residents have also humbled and inspired me. I see the resilience of many older adults as they adapt to their “home” away from home. In spite of the many personal and physical challenges, most of them are able to find resources from within to cope. Some of them will also generously share their stories and time without reservation.

During the time I spent at Villa Cathay – a practical decision out of my ability to share a language with the Chinese residents – I saw the importance of culturally appropriate facilities for a sense of belonging. The ethnic residents at Villa feel they belong because they can communicate in their own dialect; they are served familiar food prepared a certain way and they live with others who share social conventions and same traditions. With this, I hope funding will be given to increasing care in cultural sensitive settings for the older adults in order that they may thrive.

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